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Menu: Horse penis and testicles with a chilli dip
By Richard Spencer (The Daily Telegraph)
Updated: 2006-02-17 11:15

The menu at Beijing's latest venue for its growing army of gourmets is eye-watering rather than mouth-watering.


A dish combining the male organs of an ox and a snake
China's cuisine is renowned for being "in your face" - from the skinned dogs displayed at food markets to the kebabbed scorpions sold on street stalls - and there is no polite way of describing Guo-li-zhuang.

Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality penis restaurant.

Here, businessmen and government officials can sample the organs of yaks, donkeys, oxen and even seals. In fact, they have to, since they form part of every dish - except for those containing testicles.

"This is my third visit," said one customer, Liu Qiang. "Of course, there are other restaurants that serve the bian of individual animals. But this is the first that brings them all together."

Guolizhuang's owner, who set it up in November, is proud to combine his own surname (Guo), his wife's (Li) and his son's nickname (Zhuang) into its title.

A booking comes with a trained waitress and a nutritionist in attendance, to explain the menu and to boast its medicinal virtues.


Dog's penis, garnished with a plum
In China, you are what you eat, and The Daily Telegraph's nutritionist, Zhu Yan, said the clients were mainly men eager to improve their yang, or virility. Women could benefit, too, she added, although she told the Telegraph's female photographer: "I wouldn't recommend the testicles. The testosterone might interfere in fertility. But many women say bian is good for the skin."

Some dishes appear unexceptional, such as the simple goat penis, sliced, dipped in flour, fried, and served skewered with soy sauce.

But Guolizhuang also has its showpieces, such as the elegantly named "Head crowned with a Jade Bracelet" (provided by horses from the western Muslim region of Xin-jiang), for °Í20 a portion, or "Dragon in the Flame of Desire" (yak, steamed whole, fried and flamb®¶ed) for °Í35.

For beginners, Miss Zhu recommended the hotpot, which offers a sampling of what the restaurant has to offer - six types of penis, and four of testicle, boiled in chicken stock by the waitress, Liu Yunyang, 22.

The Russian dog was first. It was julienned, and rather gamey.

The ox was, of all six, the most recognisable for what it was, even though it had been diced. In texture seemed identical to gristle.

The deer and the Mongolian goat were surprisingly similar: a little stringy, they had the appearance and feel of overcooked squid tentacles. The Xinjiang horse and the donkey, on the other hand, were quite different. Though both came sliced lengthwise, and looked like bacon, the horse was light and fatty, while the donkey had a firm colour and taste. The testicles were slightly crumbly, and tasted better with lashings of the sesame, soy and chilli dips thoughtfully provided.

One speciality, Canadian seal penis, costs a hefty °Í220, and requires ordering in advance. Miss Liu confessed that Guo-li-zhuang was an unusual place to work, partly because of her training - she has to recite tales proving the vigour of the animals in question as they are being eaten - and partly because of the interaction with the clientele. "I did find it embarrassing at first," she said. "And sometimes the customers take advantage of me by asking rude questions."

As for the supposed health benefits, Mr Liu, the most regular customer, was uncertain but hopeful. "I can't say I've noticed any difference yet," he said. "But it's a long-term thing."



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